Today’s guest blogger is Tanya du Plooy, a mom, stepmom and a experienced counselor. Tanya discusses why we get angry, irritated and frustrated with our children as well as what to do about it.
Losing Your Cool
My first two years of motherhood felt like bliss, until something happened that I wasn’t prepared for.
When my daughter turned two, she entered the difficult mischief and tantrum stage. I would get so frustrated that I would have outbursts of anger with my little girl. This made me feel like a failure and a fraud. I considered myself to be a calm, patient mommy who also helped people with their problems in my practice as a counselor.
At this time I also had stressful changes in my life; we moved cities, my partner had to travel abroad for an extended period of time and we were living with family.
I realized I was being hard on myself about my behaviour but I didn’t stop to acknowledge what was going on with me.
Looking back, it is hard for me to admit how out of touch I was with reality. This is what unacknowledged stress and strain can do to us. Like me, many mothers have the unrealistic expectation of themselves to soldier-on no matter what is going on in their lives.
My frustrating moments only happened whenever I was overwhelmed, tired, worried, afraid, stressed, hurt or insecure. I had certain needs asking to be met and feelings needing to be acknowledged but instead I was unconsciously trying to shut it all down and projecting that frustration onto my child.
Visualize an imaginary cup inside of you that, depending on how full or empty it is, determines your sense of physical, mental, spiritual and emotional well-being. Certain situations or habits either fill or drain the cup. We can thrive as parents if we find balance and keep our cup at least half full, refilling when we are feeling drained.
Taking care of yourself is an absolute necessity for optimal health and well-being. This can include exercise, being alone and engaging in activities that you enjoy, pampering, quiet time, hobbies etc. Completely “unplugging” for a while also promotes full recovery and restoration within yourself.
Connect With Yourself
When you are having an emotional overreaction, pause and remove yourself from the situation. Become still and breathe. Come to terms with what happened and determine what your physical or emotional needs are in that moment and find a way to meet it as soon as you can.
Journaling a great important tool that I recommend for all challenges. If you are having a difficult day you can find relief by writing or typing everything out on your phone, computer or in a notebook. It can specifically be helpful to use to release emotion and find clarity.
Ways to Meet Your Needs
Sad = Cry, journaling
Angry = Exercise, punch a pillow, journaling
Stressed & Overwhelmed = Conscious breathing and EFT tapping www.tappingsolution.com
Hungry/Thirsty = Keep healthy snacks and water handy
Tired = Rest/Nap/Sleep as soon as you can
To connect with your needs and meet them accordingly sounds so simple, but the problem is that we tend to not do it. What we generally do is feel uncomfortable and either rage outward or numb our inner discomfort with unhealthy habits like overindulging in food, substances or mind numbing television. Although those habits feel temporarily satisfying they don’t solve the underlying problem of feeling burnt-out or emotionally overwhelmed.
In addition to meeting your needs, the most important aspect of self-care is to be kind, understanding and forgiving towards yourself.
Be Aware of Your Child
My daughter’s behaviour was developmentally right on schedule. She explored and reacted to her emotional impulses, expressing her will and frustration as experienced boundaries and disappointment. I also didn’t realize that the big change in our lives was having an effect on her just as much as it was on me.
In every stage of childhood and adolescence there are emotional challenges that the child is dealing with. As a first time mommy I was not aware or prepared and that added to my difficulty.
Our children are not purposefully aggravating us. They are dealing with how they are experiencing their world in the moment and behaving accordingly. Supporting your child in each developmental phase can be further researched but my advice would be to take care of yourself physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally as discussed here and that will make all the difference in how you parent your child.
How Did I Reach These Conclusions?
My daughter is almost 6 years old now and I am back to feeling bliss as a mommy. I have learned to navigate the challenging moments. It took me a long time to get to this point by being completely open, willing to learn, and doing a lot of soul searching.
Acknowledging your feelings and taking care of your well-being is necessary to be a good parent. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Just being aware that your well-being matters and spending 5 – 20 minutes a day of any self-care practice can make all the difference.
About the Author
Tanya du Plooy is a Holistic Therapist and a mother. Read more about her at www.tanyaduplooy.com.